Mark Buglioni, Assistant Technical Officer
As I head back to Canada, I reflect on my time working with the Arboricultural Association.
In early May 2023 my plane landed at Heathrow Airport. This marked my first time in the United Kingdom, and my first time travelling over the Atlantic. From Heathrow, I trained into London with my stuffed backpack. London was exceptionally busy that weekend. It was the king’s coronation, and the city was packed. I enjoyed a brief stay in the hectic city, but my destination was a very different setting: I was travelling to the small town of Stonehouse, just west of Stroud in Gloucestershire.
Stonehouse seemed a very unusual destination to my friends and family, mainly because no one had ever heard of it. Even my English friend in London hadn’t heard of the town. I knew nothing about it either, and I didn’t know what to expect, but I was ready for a new experience. I was headed to Stonehouse to start a temporary work stay with the Association. Previously working in Canada in municipal arboriculture, I was excited to expand my knowledge and gain international experience in the arb industry.
Admittedly I didn’t give myself much time to settle. A week after arriving in the UK, I was out at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, mowing fields and setting up signs for the annual ARB Show on the approaching weekend. Staff introductions were brief, but I was warmly welcomed into a very busy team. We lucked out for weather, and I got to enjoy two awesome days of ARB Show on my second weekend in the UK.
After the show and back at the office, my role has been to operate as an Assistant Technical Officer. I helped with events, content organisation, technical editing, public inquiries, the ARB Magazine, and more. After working on the tools in tree care before I came to the UK, I was introduced to the incredible amount of work people are doing behind the scenes to make the industry safer, create better public awareness, and help support arborists.
I learned how the UK arboriculture industry is one of the groups leading the way on practice and standards. Although challenges remain, the industry is becoming increasingly professional and efficient through the work organisations like the Arboricultural Association are completing. I was impressed to learn how often the Association works with organisations internationally to advance practice at home. I believe the more the arboricultural industry works together, the faster the industry will achieve better public awareness, better safety, and better wages for arborists.
For such a small team, the Association gets a lot done. I was blown away by the scope of things happening around the office. A few aspects of the charity that especially impressed me were the level of quality in its publications, the success of ARB Show and Conference events, and the historic impact the Association has on arboriculture. It was great to hear about all the progress from the different departments during team meetings, which always included humour to lighten the mood.
As the weeks went on in the summer, and I observed everyone in the office, I also realised that the Association operates with a strong family feel. Each member of the team often goes beyond their role to help each other; I experienced this firsthand. Although it was difficult to find transportation and housing in the area, I had numerous offers from coworkers and their families for help and advice. I didn’t know anyone initially, but my coworkers offered friendship, social events, bicycles, rides, and even beds to stay in their own homes when I needed help. To those who helped me out, at the Arb Association and beyond, I can’t thank you enough.
When I wasn’t at work, I made the most of living in the UK (and the rest of Europe). I had an incredible trip hiking and camping in Snowdonia, a bright tour of Barcelona, a journey through central Europe, and many more adventures.
It’s amazing how many places you’ll see a London plane tree! My wallet might say otherwise, but it was incredible visiting so many different countries and places so close to where I was living.
Looking back, I came to the UK to expand my knowledge and network in arboriculture. When I return to Canada, I hope to bring all my experience abroad with me to advance tree care practice at home. I want to thank everyone again at the Arboricultural Association and in the UK arb industry for welcoming me into the community. Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge to help me learn and grow as a professional.
This article was taken from Issue 203 Winter 2023 of the ARB Magazine, which is available to view free to members by simply logging in to the website and viewing your profile area.